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Projects in Motion: Control Three Types of Motors with 555 Timers 


Projects in Motion: Control 

Three Types of Motors with 555 


Written By: Steve Hobley 


SPDT Switch (1) 

from RadioShack 

TIP 3055 Transistor (4) 

from RadioShack. 

1 N4003 (4) 

from RadioShack. 

PK8 Jumper Leads (1) 

from RadioShack. 

NTE4027B IC (1) 


Resistor. 500-piece assortment. 1/4 Watt (1) 

from RadioShack. 

Diode 1N41 48(1) 

from RadioShack. 

) Make Projects Page 1 of 7 

Projects in Motion: Control Three Types of Motors with 555 Timers 
0.022uF Capacitor (1) 
from RadioShack. 

from RadioShack. 

• 0.1uF(100nf)(1) 
from RadioShack. 
DC motor (1) 
from RadioShack. 
Unipolar Stepper motor (1) 
Servo Motor (1) 
555 Timer IC chips (2) 
from RadioShack. 
100k linear taper potentiometer (1) 
from RadioShack. 
Solderless breadboard (1) 
from RadioShack. 


With an estimated one billion 555 timers manufactured annually, you know this component 
must be versatile! We're going to learn how to build and control drivers for three very 
different types of motors using a breadboard, resistors, diodes, transistors, and some 555 
timers (along with a sprinkling of CMOS logic ). These motor drivers are the basis of many 
robotics and other motor-control applications. 

The first project is one of the simplest "H-bridge" circuit designs around. It consists of only 
two 555 timers, a potentiometer, and some hookup wire on your breadboard. 

In the second project, we will build a servomotor controller using only one 555 chip and a 
small assortment of other parts. Servos often act as the "muscle" of a robot. 

And finally, for the the third project, explained over three steps, we will build a simple 
stepper controller. This project will introduce you to the XOR logic gate (pronounced "Eks- 
Or"). Regarded as exclusive or, the output is true only if gate one or gate two are true; if 
both gates are true or both gates are false, the output is false. 
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Projects in Motion: Control Three Types of Motors with 555 Timers 

Step 1 — Project #1: 555 H-Bridge Motor Driver 



• This is a clever idea: using two 555 timers, you can create a simple H-bridge motor driver 
for controlling DC motors. An H-bridge is the basis of many robotic drive systems, as it 
lets you easily control the direction of a motor. Twisting the potentiometer will turn the DC 
motor one direction, then twisting it the other way will turn the motor in the other direction. 

• The circuit works by getting the output to source and then sinking the current. 555 timers 
can do this with up to 200ma, more than enough to drive a small DC motor. The two 555 
timers work in an opposite configuration: when one sources, the other sinks, and vice 

• This particular circuit has a very small component count too - just two 555 timers, a 
potentiometer, and hookup wire. (Original circuit diagram from 

• Once completed, hook up 5v to the power rails on the breadboard (the red and black wires 
on the left of the breadboard diagram). 

• To power all three of these circuits, you'll need to deliver voltages from 5-6v to 12v. 
We recommend either using a benchtop power supply or a variable-voltage power 

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Projects in Motion: Control Three Types of Motors with 555 Timers 

Step 2 — Project #2: Controlling a Servomotor 


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• Now we're going to control a servomotor. This is a special kind of motor, often used as the 
"muscles" of a robot. A servomotor takes a stream of pulses, where the width of each 
pulse controls the absolute position of the servo. This allows for precise positioning of 
motor turns. 

• To do this, we're going to use a 555 timer in "Astable" mode - this will run it as an 
oscillator. Our 100K potentiometer can be used to control the width of the pulses and so 
control the position of the motor. (Original circuit diagram from 

• To build this circuit, we're going to need one of our 555 chips, a 5v hobby servomotor, a 
3.3MQ resistor, a 56KQ resistor, a diode (1N4148), and a 0.022 F capacitor. 

• In this guide we've included breadboard illustrations along with photographs. Hopefully this 
should make the circuit clearer and easier for you to follow. Lay down the connections as 
shown. Note the orientation of the diode - it only works one way! 

• Connect 5-6v DC to the red and black wires on the left of the board and you're good to go. 
If you've done everything right, you should be able to move the servo by turning the 

• Note: In practice, this simple servo motor controller might prove to be a little 
"jittery." That's because the variable PWM is not entirely stable. I have found that 
better quality servomotors are quite effective at filtering out the instability. 

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Projects in Motion: Control Three Types of Motors with 555 Timers 

Step 3 — Project #3: Super-Simple Stepper Controller 

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t OK, now for the big project! A stepper motors is a special type of motor that only moves 
very slightly each time a combination of voltages is applied to its input pins. To make a 
motor like this turn, we have to sequence a set of voltages to appear on the correct pins at 
the correct times. This is a tough assignment, so our trusty 555 timer is going to need a 
little help! 

t That help is going to come from a couple of CMOS logic chips: A 4070 Quad XOR Gate, 
and a 4027 Dual JK Flip-Flop. Our 555 timer is going to generate the stream of clock 
pulses to govern the speed of the motor. Then our logic gates will sequence the signals 
into the correct order to make the motor turn. 


• This project will hook up to a Unipolar stepper motor -- one that typically has 6 input 

• Let's start by building a simple 555 timer in astable oscillator mode. For this we're going to 
need a 555 timer, a capacitor and potentiometer. (Original circuit from In the schematic, the capacitors are simple ceramic 
caps (these are unpolarized, so they can be inserted either way around). 

• The resistors at R1 and R2 will be substituted with the potentiometer. 

• Hook up 12v and check the output (white wire) with a frequency counter to see if you are 
getting a stable square wave oscillation. Turning the potentiometer should change the 
frequency. Note: although not pictured, as with the previous layouts, I have connected the 
upper and lower power rails of the breadboard together with jumper wire. 

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Projects in Motion: Control Three Types of Motors with 555 Timers 

Step 4 — Project #3: Super-Simple Stepper Controller (continued) 



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• Once we have the oscillator, err... oscillating, the next step is to hook up the 4070 XOR 
Gate and SPDT switch. Follow the connections in the first diagram; add the SPDT switch 
first, then add the chip. 

• Next up is the 4027 chip. This is shown in the second layout diagram. 

• Note: in the circuit diagram, R1-R4 are all 1KQ (brown-black-red) resistors; Q1-Q4 
are TIP3055, TIP31, or any suitable NPN power resistor. Diodes are all 1N4003. 
Placing these will be our next step. 


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Projects in Motion: Control Three Types of Motors with 555 Timers 

Step 5 — Project #3: Super Simple Stepper Controller (continued) 

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• Finally, we have to add the 4 transistors and protection diodes. For clarity I've shown the 
first two hookups. The grey and yellow wires run to the 470Q resistors, and the blue output 
wires run to the coils of the motor. 

• Replicate the transistor/diode hookups using outputs 15 and 14 from the 4027 chip. See 
the accompanying photos for component placement. 

• Finally we need to connect the common of the stepper motor connections to +12v. When 
the transistors are activated, the current will flow from the common line, through the motor 
coil, and to ground via the transistor. 

• The diodes are there to protect the transistors from EMF back-surges. 


As you can see, the 555 timer is a really great component. It was introduced in 1971 by 
Signetics - and it's still just as useful today - with over 1 billion units produced annually. 

st generated on 2012-10-31 12:08:06 PM. 

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